Will VA Pay for a Veteran's Funeral?
Will the Veteran's Administration pay for the funeral of a Veteran? As a funeral director I encounter that question often. The answer is, unfortunately, no. It is often difficult and heartbreaking for the family who has been under the assumption for years that the VA will pay for the funeral. This comes from misinformation or hear-say that families have not confirmed. Often times, the Veteran themselves will convey these sentiments to loved ones. The truth is, sadly, there are very few benefits that Veterans receive at the time of death, but there are some that we all should know about.
Free burial in a National or VA cemetery is offered to almost any veteran who served and was honorably discharged. Eligibility for burial in a VA National Cemetery is based on the length of time in active military service and the nature of the veteran’s separation from the service. For example a Veteran who has served and been honorably discharged is entitled to be buried without charge for the grave, opening of the grave, and, if the cemetery requires a grave liner, the cost of the liner as well. This benefit also applies to the spouse of the Veteran. Depending upon your area and the costs of graves, openings and liners, this benefit can easily save a family $5,000 or more. This benefit can be pre-qualified for at most VA cemeteries and it is our recommendation to have the prequalification as part of your pre-need funeral plan. ***Note this benefit does not apply to Arlington National Cemetery which has its own qualification process.***
Veterans who have been honorably discharged and who are eligible for burial in a National Cemetery are eligible for a free burial marker. Markers can be flat markers in granite, marble, and bronze and upright headstones come in granite and marble. Bronze niche markers are also available to mark columbaria used for inurnment of cremated remains. The style chosen must be permitted by the officials in charge of the private cemetery where it will be placed. The headstones themselves are at no cost, however, your cemetery, if it is not a National Cemetery, will most likely have a fee to install the marker.
Veterans who were honorably discharged and who were receiving a veteran pension due to service or injury due to service may receive a $300 funeral allowance and may receive $150 plot allowance. These applications are reviewed by V.A. and in my experience take much time to get resolved. These applications may also, if approved, cover the transportation costs for veterans who die at a Veteran Hospital or Facility.
Flags and Honors
Perhaps the most important benefit for veteran’s funeral is the provision of personnel to render military honors. Representatives of the veteran’s respective branch of service will attend the final service at this point the will be at attention during the playing of taps and then fold and present a flag to the veteran’s next of kin. To qualify the veteran needs to be honorably discharged and their DD214 discharge paper needs to be sent to the honors program. The most important item is the discharge paper. Unfortunately, some branches of the service will not provide honors without the discharge paper. At the time of death documents may not be easily attainable we suggest keeping a copy of the discharge on file at the funeral home and offer this service as well as assistance to veterans who have lost their discharge as part of our pre-need planning service.
We encourage all veterans and their families to call us with any questions they may have. We can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (888) 700-EDEN.